Hear.com Review: Costs and Services in 2023
Buying hearing aids online can be risky. If you’re new to the game, it can be hard to navigate the many hearing device scams populating search results. Hear.com is legit. And we’ll help you decide whether it’s the best choice for you.
Hear.com's Horizon hearing aids come in multiple form factors
What is hear.com?
Hear.com is a hearing care company with a mission “to bring high-quality hearing care to anyone, anywhere—independent of lifestyle, budget, or geographic location.”
Hear.com is the U.S. equivalent of audibene, a provider of hearing care products and services in Europe. Audibene was founded in Germany in 2012, and has since expanded into 11 countries under the hear.com and audibene brands. Similar to TruHearing, hear.com provides hearing care services through a network of US-based hearing care “partners”—hear.com’s current partner network includes over 2,000 state-licensed providers. Different than other networks, hear.com also offers a complete tele-health journey to serve customers in even the most remote areas of the US with medical-grade hearing aid technology.
Audibene founders Marco Vietor and Paul Crusius (source: audibene)
How does hear.com work?
Hear.com assesses your hearing needs with an online questionnaire and an optional phone consultation, pairs you with a local or remote care provider, and chaperones the hearing care process until you are successfully fitted with hearing aids. Once fitted, you have 45 days to test your hearing aids and decide whether you want to keep them.
If you’re not able to visit a hear.com partner clinic in your vicinity, you can opt for the company’s tele-audiology journey, which is discussed in detail below.
After attracting and consulting with customers, hear.com will guide you through the hearing aid fitting process over the phone and through an in-clinic fitting or tele-audiology session. (source: hear.com)
The initial questionnaire and consultation
Every journey at hear.com starts with the company’s online questionnaire, which hear.com uses to understand your hearing needs, and to determine whether or not you qualify for its 45-day no-risk trial. The questionnaire asks about the situations you experience difficulty in, whether you already wear hearing aids, whether you are looking for any specific features, whether you’ve had your hearing tested, and whether you’ve experienced tinnitus. There are also questions about your employment status, credit score, insurance coverage, and whether you may have access to military or federal employee programs.
If you qualify
If you qualify for hear.com’s service and opt for a phone consultation, your hear.com consultant will call you within 15 minutes. They will collect additional information, help you decide which hearing devices may be best for your lifestyle and budget, pick a local provider, and schedule an all-in-one appointment to fit your hearing aids. The phone consultation takes up to 25 minutes, and you should be ready to share additional medical and insurance details.
People who choose to proceed without a phone consultation can book their appointment online after completing the initial questionnaire. However, if this is your first hearing aid, we strongly recommend that you speak with one of hear.com’s consultants, as they can help you sort out insurance and payment details and ensure you’re choosing the best hearing aid for your situation.
If you don’t qualify
We’ve run through the questionnaire with a variety of different answers, including being unemployed and having a poor credit rating. Not everyone qualifies. If you don’t qualify for hearing aids from hear.com, you will be redirected to SoundBright, a hear.com-operated website that carries more affordable direct-to-consumer hearing aids from Vibe (the brands is manufactured by hear.com’s parent company).
When asked about SoundBright, a representative from hear.com told us that “Soundbright is a pilot approach to understand incremental consumer segments that we currently cannot serve with our hear.com approach. Essentially, we are trying to understand what hearing solutions very budget-conscious consumers need. With our consumer marketing activities, we are finding some customers that are not in a position to fund hearing care that involves a professional hearing instrument specialist or audiologist. We want to understand how we can best help them as well.”
Seeing a local provider
Following your initial consultation, all you have to do is show up for your appointment at hear.com’s local partner clinic. In the meantime, your consultant will have your hearing aids sent to your local care provider.
During your appointment, your local care provider (an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist) may perform a hearing test and real ear measurements (where available), and fit your new hearing aids. It’s also possible that your local hearing health professional may decide to recommend a different model. Should their examination reveal that a different device option is a better fit for you, the initial devices may be exchanged. In this case, you’ll have to make an additional appointment for the fitting.
The tele-audiology journey
If you request the tele-audiology journey you will receive a Clinic-in-a-Box in place of visiting an audiologist in person. The box includes a tablet programmed for your appointment, an otoscope for examining your ears, and your new hearing aids.
Hear.com's clinic-in-a-box is a telehealth solution for remote hearing aid fittings. (source: hear.com)
Prior to your appointment, you’ll receive a call from hear.com’s support team. They will guide you through setting up the tablet for the remote appointment with your hearing care specialist. They can also answer questions about the process. During your appointment, a hearing care specialist will guide you through the remote hearing test and program your hearing aids based on the results.
What happens during the 45-day no-risk trial?
Hear.com offers a 45-day no-risk trial and money-back guarantee. Throughout the trial period, you’re entitled to an unlimited amount of visits with your local or tele-audiology provider. You may need additional visits within that time in case you have issues with or questions about your hearing aids. If you are unhappy with the sound of your hearing aids, adjustments may be required.
Hear.com will follow up within the first few days to learn about your initial experience and reinforce your care provider’s recommendations. Your provider may also check in with you at some point. Finally, hear.com offers a Hearing Success Program, a mobile app-based 30-day training course that encourages daily wear and helps you get used to your new hearing devices. The app also gives you access to lifelong video-call support.
Should you choose to return your hearing aids before the end of the trial period, hear.com will refund you for the hearing aids.
What happens after the trial?
Following the trial, hear.com offers a 3-year warranty on your hearing aids. Within the warranty period, you’ll also have a number of free visits, which include free replacement parts (e.g. domes or cleaning tools) with your care provider. You’ll get three free visits if you went with a lower-tier tech and five free visits if you picked a higher-tier tech. If your hearing is likely to fluctuate or deteriorate rapidly, or if you think you may need more frequent personal assistance, you may want to purchase a product with more free visits.
Which hearing aids does hear.com offer and how much do they cost?
Hear.com works with every major hearing aid manufacturer and insurance plan. The price of your hearing aids depends on several factors, including the model and performance level you choose, how much your insurance covers, where your care provider is located, and whether you opt for financing.
Brands: Signia, Oticon, Phonak, Starkey, Widex, ReSound, Rexton, Unitron, and Horizon (hear.com’s in-house models).
Insurances: Cigna, United Healthcare, Humana, BlueCross BlueShield, Aetna, Kaiser Permanente, and special programs.
When you take hear.com’s initial questionnaire, your answers determine the starting point for the hear.com consultant to understand which tech level may be the best option for you.
Hear.com offers three different pricing “solutions”:
- Hear Today: Single-unit pricing, latest technology, and you’ll be scheduled for an “instant” fitting of your hearing aids.
- Best Choice: Value-based journey with previous-generation technology, pair pricing, and instant fitting.
- Soundbright: Direct-to-consumer journey with self-service testing and fitting approach and optional phone consultation.
Independent of the selected solution, hear.com will work with your health insurance and financing preferences to work out a pricing plan that is manageable within your needs.
Prices range from $799 for a pair of high quality self-fitting devices (through Soundbright) to $2,900 for a pair of mid-level devices, up to $6,500 for premium technology. Insurance discounts and promotions can lead to significantly lower pricing.
Horizon: hear.com’s in-house hearing aid label
Hear.com sells all the major hearing aid brands, but it should be noted that hear.com and audibene are owned by WS Audiology, the same company that manufactures Signia, Widex, and Rexton hearing aids. Hear.com and audibene provide a unique opportunity to position WSA-manufactured devices for mass appeal—in 2021 alone, the websites attracted 70 million web “visits.”
In early 2022, hear.com launched a new line of hear.com branded hearing aids under the brand name “Horizon.” The new line includes two new models, Go AX and Style AX, which are similar to Signia Charge&Go AX and Signia Styletto AX (not yet released in the USA), respectively.
Listed prices are for a pair of hearing aids in US dollars unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and may vary by region.
Like the Signia models, both Horizon AX models offer lithium-ion rechargeability, audio streaming over iOS and Android, dual sound processors, and stylish design. Hands-free calling is reportedly on the way in the first half of 2022.
Unique Horizon AX listening modes
Besides the name, there are a few key differences between the AX hearing aids offered by Signia and the Horizon AX hearing aids offered by hear.com. Hear.com have worked directly with the engineering team at Signia to add three unique listening modes, which are designed to serve the needs of the younger, more active customers served by hear.com.
The first mode is “Speech Focus”, which hear.com says helps you “focus on speech that is important to you – even in difficult listening environments such as a busy restaurant”. Speech Focus will provide more mid-frequency gain, fine-tune the directional microphones and increase noise reduction.
The second mode is “Panorama Effect,” which provides a 360-degree listening experience. Hear.com says this setting may be useful for outdoor activities such as hiking or jogging or anywhere hearing sounds all around you is beneficial.
The third mode is “Relax Mode,” which disables the hearing aid microphones and plays a soothing and peaceful soundscape. It should be noted that Relax Mode is not intended to be a tinnitus masking program, though wearers may choose to use it as such. Separate tinnitus programming features are available within the Horizon AX hearing aids and can be set by your local provider.
Horizon AX pricing
Horizon AX is available in three unique technology levels, 7AX, 5AX, and 3AX, with each level delivering a unique set of software features to enhance your listening experience. The 7AX level is the most sophisticated and delivers the highest number of processing channels and a 12kHz extended bandwidth (among other things). The lowest level (3AX) is missing certain key features like “Spatial SpeechFocus”, which coordinates the steering of directional microphones to enhance speech. Prices are as follows:
- Horizon 7AX - $199/month
- Horizon 5AX - $169/month
- Horizon 3AX - $139/month
All three Horizon AX technology levels support Speech Focus, Panorama Effect, and Relax Mode through the Horizon smartphone app.
Relax Mode and Panorama Mode options are featured in this montage screenshots for the hear.com Horizon app. (source: Apple App Store)
Hear.com also offers a completely-in-canal hearing aid option, which is similar to the Signia Silk X. This model runs on Signia’s previous-generation Xperience platform.
The hear.com “dual-expert” approach
The main benefit of hear.com is its efficient process and the “dual-expert” approach—if you choose hear.com, you’ll immediately have a hear.com phone consultant by your side while you work towards connecting with your local (or virtual) care provider. You’ll also have ongoing access to your consultant through the official hear.com app, which is discussed in detail below.
On the other hand, hear.com’s phone consultants aren’t state-licensed healthcare professionals. Hear.com told us that they’re selected based on being caring and good communicators, and previous relevant work experience. While they won’t have the depth of knowledge and clinical experience of a care provider, consultants do receive training on hearing aid technology and general audiology concepts.
In most cases, the device recommendations made by hear.com’s phone consultants end up fitting the needs of the customer, but in some cases, the provider may opt to recommend a different product after a more thorough audiological examination of the customer.
If there is a cause for your hearing loss that requires special treatment, your care provider will refer you to an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor) before fitting you with hearing aids. If you choose the tele-audiology route, hear.com offers the most robust at-home hearing test on the market. A licensed hearing care provider conducts a thorough assessment of your hearing incl. CEDRA questionnaire, pure tone audiometry, otoscopy, speech testing and bone conduction measurements. Your tele-audiology provider will refer you to an ENT if they suspect any underlying medical issues.
Consultants get patients excited and committed to the process. We want to keep the momentum and get them into the office very quickly.- Dr. Hope Lanter, Lead Audiologist and Director of Partner Success at hear.com
Ongoing service and the hear.com app
Hear.com maintains an active role in your care—even after you’ve purchased hearing aids—primarily through the hear.com app. The app provides direct access to your hear.com consultant at “any time”, and provides a library of FAQs to help answer common support questions. The app also monitors your hearing aid usage and encourages you to use your hearing aids more frequently, which is one of the keys to succeeding with hearing aids.
The hear.com app on the App Store.
The hear.com app also provides a convenient hub for scheduling and rescheduling appointments with your local (or tele-audiology) care provider. Appointment reminders are sent through the app, and when it’s time for your appointment, you can get directions on the app as well.
Lastly, the hear.com app provides a wealth of product information about the devices you’ve purchased, including information like:
- What model of hearing aids you’re wearing
- Links to the model-specific smartphone app for controlling your hearing aids (like the Horizon app discussed above)
- User manuals and warranty information
- Information about how your devices are set up, including the domes that you’re using
- Access to the hear.com “Magazine” and video library
It should be noted that the hear.com app has a 4.8 out of 5 rating (and over 2.5K ratings) on the App Store. This is the most highly-rated hearing app that we’ve reviewed.
What do audiologists think of hear.com?
We requested input from hear.com care providers regarding their experiences and received feedback from several current and former network providers. While we received both positive and negative comments, a main point of criticism was that hear.com calls providers and their patients too often. Many noted that the prices weren’t all that competitive and that they could have offered the same or better deals had the patient come to them directly.
One audiologist said that they had patients come to their clinic who were “given incorrect promises about services, recommended the incorrect devices,” and received too many calls from their consultants. Another mentioned they were called halfway into their appointment with a patient referred through hear.com, to check whether the client was going to purchase the aids.
Audiologists appreciate that hear.com competes with online scams and helps people receive legit hearing health care. Several praised hear.com’s efficient case management approach. We also heard that prices are slightly lower than average, and it’s possible to get additional discounts.
What do customers think of hear.com?
While there are some detractors from hear.com, it’s hard to argue that hear.com isn’t providing a positive experience for the vast majority of consumers who purchase through the service. As mentioned, the hear.com smartphone app—which is the hub for ongoing customer service—has a thousands of reviews and a 4.8 star rating. And reviews on Trustpilot also reflect positively on hear.com—the site has over 1,000 reviews, 84% of which come with a 5-star “Excellent” ratings.
Everything was excellent from the expertise of the audiologist, to the quality of the hearing aid, and the thoroughness and provision of short and long term follow up and assistance for the short and long term with adaptation to and use of aid. Process incredibly user friendly. Warranties good. Honestly an excellent result.Ed, a Trustpilot reviewer
While there were a few negative reviews on Trustpilot, it seems that most of them received a response with an attempt to provide resolution from a hear.com representative.
Who are hear.com customers?
Hear.com’s customer base tends to be younger (by about 7 years) than the average hearing aid customer. As such, they tend to have busier, more active lifestyles. Hear.com tells us that, a group, their customers are more demanding of fast, efficient, and effective services.
To achieve positive outcomes and consistently good ratings with their more demanding customers, hear.com has deployed a patient success tracking system that measures providers on a variety of metrics. Hear.com says that providers receive training or are removed from the network completely if they fail to produce successful patient outcomes—so its network of providers improves iteratively over time. Hear.com’s ideal network provider has “effective communication skills, a positive attitude, produces good hearing outcomes, and connects with a younger more active demographic.”
Should you use hear.com?
To summarize, hear.com is great when you don’t have the time or patience to navigate the hearing health landscape on your own. You will have access to state-of-the-art technology, professional services, and fair prices. What’s more, you could take home perfectly fitted hearing aids within a matter of days and with minimal effort on your end.
Pros of Hear.com
Cons of Hear.com
On the flipside, you might end up with an over-motivated consultant, and if you are particularly needy in terms of services, you may end up spending more by purchasing hear.com’s more service-limited bundles. Traditional audiologists typically offer unlimited care for 1-3 years, so if you think you may need extra in-person attention, hear.com might not be right for you.
Alternatives to hear.com
Hear.com isn’t the only company that offers a smooth experience.
If your insurance covers hearing loss, chances are that other third-party providers can handle your hearing healthcare benefits as well. TruHearing is such a third-party managed-care provider, which happens to be part of WS Audiology, the same conglomerate that owns hear.com. TruHearing also offers streamlined purchase process, though you’ll receive an in-person hearing test before the local provider orders your hearing aids.
Also, be sure to check out our new resource on affordable hearing aids (that are good).
No one has commented on this page yet. We'd love to hear from you!